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Read my User's Guide to Screenwriters

No pasaran! Monday, September 29, 2014

For some reason nothing makes me quite as angry as being asked to enter a password and finding I don’t know what it is. I started out in the halcyon dawn of the internet age with one password that I used everywhere, disregarding all advice on best practice. I told myself that I’d rather have my identity stolen than suffer the bewilderment of multiple passwords. But the system has its own way of stopping this. Every time Apple updates its operating systems it seems I have to create a new variant of my password, with ever more kinks and wrinkles. My Read More

Recent Questions

Submitted by visitors to this website

Posted by Anthony

September 26th 2014

Do you have any unproduced screenplays, and if so, would you ever consider allowing lesser know filmmakers to option your work?

William Nicholson responded:

I have many unproduced screenplays, but alas, they're all owned by the studios or production companies who commissioned and paid for them. Some of my best work is sitting gathering dust on Hollywood shelves. The owners of such scripts are usually willing to sell them on (it's called 'turnaround'), but they require a price that covers all the costs, plus interest, they've incurred on the project; which in effect means it's not worth it.

Posted by Dina Davis

September 19th 2014

I'm very much enjoying your novel, 'Reckless'.I loe your writing style, and the way your charactes are so bwliwvable. My question is: how far can one safely go in straddling the gap between history and fiction? Or, is there one? I'm finishing the last draft of a 'fictional biography'. It's called 'Capriccio' and is about the life of Assia Gutmann Wevill, the third in the triangle with Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. I've kept the real names of the protagonists, and fictionalised known events, as well as introducing some minor characters of my own. It's been a labour of love, and a long gestation, but a story which I feel deserves to be told from a new viewpoint. So, will I get away with it, do you think? Regards,Dina.

William Nicholson responded:

A sensitive area that needs very careful handling. As you may know I write fiction with real people in it a great deal, and have done since 'Shadowlands' dramatised the love life of C.S.Lewis. My own view is that it's okay to do this so long as: a) you stick to the truth as far as it's known; and b) where you invent to fill the gaps, you treat the real people generously. Lewis's stepson Douglas Gresham saw 'Shadowlands' and said to me, 'You've made most of it up, but it's the truest account of my parents I've seen.' This is an apparent paradox, but I think what he meant was that I'd touched an essential truth while creating fictional details. My own way of staying on the straight and narrow is to imagine the real person leaning over my shoulder as I write, and reading every word. There's a further issue you need to raise with yourself: what exactly is it you're writing? Is it fiction with some historical figures in walk-on roles, or are the historical figures the main characters? If the latter, why haven't you gone for an orthodox biography? We need some guidance to know what you've researched and what you've made up. I suppose in the end it's all about the signals you give. If you're writing a fantasy in which real people appear, tell me so. If you're trading on the reality of real people, make sure I can trust you to be meticulous with the facts. Maybe write a note that explains your method, and where you've gone for your information. It may interest you to read my next novel, out in the spring, called in the UK 'The Lovers of Amherst' and in the US 'Amherst' which does exactly this with the world of Emily Dickinson in the 1880s.

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Past and current works


  • The Society of Others
  • The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life
  • All the Hopeful Lovers
  • The Golden Hour
  • Motherland
  • Reckless


  • The Windsinger
  • Slaves of the Mastery
  • Firesong
  • Seeker
  • Jango
  • Noman
  • Rich and Mad


  • Shadowlands
  • Gladiator
  • Mandela
  • Les Miserables
  • Firelight
  • Nell
  • Sarafina
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age


  • The Retreat from Moscow
  • Shadowlands
  • Katherine Howard